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Arson Charges and Defense: Unpacking the Evidence and Legal Arguments

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What is Considered Arson in Texas?

Arson is a severe felony offense in Texas. The court can find you guilty of the crime if you intentionally start a fire to destroy or damage the following:

  • Someone’s building
  • Any structure, fence, or vegetation on open-space land
  • An item or structure situation on someone’s property
  • A home, building, or vehicle subject to a mortgage or other security interest.

Arson charges can be distressing and overwhelming, and the consequences can be life-changing. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s crucial to understand the gravity of the matter, your rights, and how to build a strong defense strategy. Consult skilled criminal defense attorney in New Braunfels for legal counsel and representation.

What Other Acts Qualify As Arson?

You could also be charged with arson for the following acts:

  • Recklessly causing a fire or explosion while attempting to or actually manufacturing a controlled substance, causing property damage
  • Recklessly starting or causing a fire while attempting to or manufacturing a controlled substance, causing bodily harm

New Braunfels arson lawyers add that any damage to a building can qualify as arson, regardless of the explosion’s impact. The intention to damage the building is the most significant factor in arson charges, whether or not the fire continues after it starts or leads to an explosion.

How Do Investigators Determine If a Fire Was Due to an Act of Arson?

Most fire and rescue departments use the skills of specially trained arson investigators who can examine the fire scene and the physical evidence, such as the charred remains and witness testimony. Witnesses may include firefighters who responded to the scene when putting out the fire. Arson attorneys in New Braunfels explain some factors that the investigators consider:

  • Speed of fire: The speed at which the fire spread could indicate the accelerants that were used to cause the fire
  • The fire suspects: The officers may interview witnesses to determine if familiar faces were at the scene.
  • Alarms and sprinklers: Taking note of where sprinklers and fire alarms were located on the property can help determine whether they were disabled before the fire
  • Color: The color of the fire flames and smoke is crucial in determining whether accelerants, chemicals, or substances were used to make the fire spread more quickly or produce different colors of smoke or flames.

What Are the Degrees of Arson?

Texas categorizes arson into different degrees based on the severity of the offense and the extent of the resulting property damage or destruction:

  • First-degree arson is the most severe arson charge in Texas. It entails knowingly starting a fire or causing an explosion intended to destroy a residential building or place of worship.
  • Second-degree arson: The offense entails intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion to destroy any property not classified as a place of habitation or a place of worship.
  • Third-degree arson: This offense involves recklessly starting a fire or causing an explosion with the intention of destroying or damaging any fence, vegetation, or structure on open-space land. The only exception is if the fire or explosion was part of a controlled burning of open-space land or you had written authorization to start the fire.

What Are the Penalties for Arson in Texas?

The penalties for arson in Texas depend on the degree of the offense and the extent of damage caused. The consequences of a conviction for arson charges can be severe, including significant fines and considerable time behind bars:

  • First-degree arson: A first-degree arson conviction is a felony that attracts a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of between five years to life.
  • Second-degree arson: A conviction for second-degree arson can result in penalties, including a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for two to twenty years.
  • Third-degree arson: A third-degree arson offense is a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The penalties can be damaging in the long and short term, and it’s crucial to put up a solid defense to protect your rights, freedom, and future. Skilled arson attorneys in New Braunfels can represent you during the proceedings to help you fight for the most favorable outcome.

What Are the Possible Defense Strategies Against Arson Charges?

If facing arson charges, it’s crucial to understand that your future and freedom are at stake, so you must defend yourself aggressively. Your lawyers could use the following arguments, depending on the facts presented and the case specifics:

  • The fire explosion was part of a controlled burn on open land
  • You had obtained a permit or written authorization before you started a fire or explosion within the city limits
  • The fire started as an accident, and you had no intention of causing damage
  • You were wrongfully identified as the perpetrator
  • Alibi to prove you were at a different place than where the fire happened when it started
  • Wrongful procedures by law enforcers in obtaining evidence
  • Not being informed of your Miranda rights during your arrest

Experienced criminal defense attorneys know the range of defenses available and will use one or more that enhance the likelihood of an outcome that favors you.

A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Helping You Navigate Arson Charges

Arson charges in Texas are severe, with life-changing consequences. With so much at stake, you can’t afford to be casual about the charges. If accused, it’s best to seek the legal assistance of experienced arson lawyers in New Braunfels to help you beat the charges.

The Seymour Law Office hosts skilled arson attorneys in New Braunfels, dedicated to fighting for your future and freedom. We know how complex it is to navigate criminal charges in Texas, and we want to help you avoid a conviction. Call us at 830-282-8751 to request a FREE consultation.

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